Theranostics 2021; 11(2):555-566. doi:10.7150/thno.49250

Research Paper

Targeting of glioma stem-like cells with a parthenolide derivative ACT001 through inhibition of AEBP1/PI3K/AKT signaling

Yanli Hou1*, Bowen Sun2*, Wenxue Liu2, Bo Yu2, Qiqi Shi2, Fei Luo2, Yongrui Bai1✉, Haizhong Feng2✉

1. Department of Radiotherapy, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200127, China
2. State Key Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, Renji-Med X Clinical Stem Cell Research Center, Ren Ji Hospital, Shanghai Cancer Institute, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200127, China
*These authors equally contributed to this work

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Citation:
Hou Y, Sun B, Liu W, Yu B, Shi Q, Luo F, Bai Y, Feng H. Targeting of glioma stem-like cells with a parthenolide derivative ACT001 through inhibition of AEBP1/PI3K/AKT signaling. Theranostics 2021; 11(2):555-566. doi:10.7150/thno.49250. Available from https://www.thno.org/v11p0555.htm

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Abstract

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most lethal primary brain tumor in adults with a median survival of around 15 months. A potential treatment strategy involves targeting glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) that are able to initiate, maintain, and repopulate the tumor mass. Here, we identify ACT001, a parthenolide derivative, targeting GSCs through regulation of adipocyte enhancer binding protein 1 (AEBP1) signaling.

Methods: The effects of ACT001 on cell survival of normal human astrocytes (NHA) and patient-derived glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) were evaluated. RNA-Seq were performed to detect differentially expressed genes. ACT001 efficacy as a single agent or in combination with SHP-2 inhibitor SHP099 was assessed using a GSC orthotopic xenograft model.

Results: GSCs exhibit high response to ACT001 in compared with normal human astrocytes. AEBP1 is a putative target of ACT001 by RNA-Seq analysis, which expression associates with prognosis of GBM patients. Knockdown of AEBP1 inhibits GSC proliferation and glioma sphere formation. Treatment with ACT001 or PI3K inhibitor or AEBP1 depletion would impair AKT phosphorylation and GSC proliferation, whereas constitutive AKT activation rescues ACT001 treatment or AEBP1 depletion-inhibited cell proliferation. Moreover, ACT001 blocks TGF-β-activated AEBP1/AKT signaling in GSCs. ACT001 exhibits antitumor activity either as a single agent or in combination with SHP099, which provides significant survival benefits for GSC tumor xenograft-bearing animals.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrate AEBP1 as a new druggable target in GBM and ACT001 as a potential therapeutic option for improving the clinical treatment of GBM in combination with SHP099.

Keywords: ACT001, glioma stem-like cells, AEBP1, AKT, PI3K, SHP099